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Comparative skeletochronological analysis of Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) humeri and scleral ossicles
Avens, L.; Goshe, L.R. (2007). Comparative skeletochronological analysis of Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) humeri and scleral ossicles. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(6): 1309-1317.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Avens, L.
  • Goshe, L.R.

    Skeletochronological analysis of Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle humeri and scleral ossicles was conducted to (1) describe the characteristics of scleral ossicles in these species, (2) determine whether the scleral ossicles contain annually deposited skeletal growth marks and (3) evaluate the potential for skeletochronological analysis of ossicles to obtain age data for size classes and species of sea turtles whose humeri exhibit prohibitive amounts of growth mark resorption. Humeri, entire eyes, and/or individual scleral ossicles were collected from stranded, dead sea turtles that were found along the coasts of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas, USA. Samples were taken from a total of 77 neritic, juvenile Kemp’s ridleys ranging from 21.1 to 56.8 cm straightline carapace length (SCL), as well as two Kemp’s ridley hatchlings. For loggerheads, samples were obtained from 65 neritic juvenile and adult turtles ranging from 44.7 to 103.6 cm SCL and ten hatchlings. Examination of the ossicles revealed the presence of marks similar in appearance to those found in humeri. The number of marks in the ossicles and humeri of individual juvenile Kemp’s ridleys for which both structures were collected (n = 55) was equivalent, strongly indicating that the marks are annual. However, in large juvenile and adult loggerhead turtles (n = 65), some significant resorption of early growth marks was observed, suggesting that although ossicles might be useful for skeletochronological analysis of small juveniles, they may not provide a reasonable alternative to humeri for obtaining age estimates for older loggerhead sea turtles.

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